Hey Bird Guy! I’ve always wondered why there are seagulls in large parking lots around here even though the sea is miles away. -M.C. Bloomingdale
I’ll try to help you out with an answer and then I’ll try to amaze you with some mad bird knowledge. Fair enough?
Gulls are extremely adaptable to almost any circumstance. They are not big fans of the dessert, but other than that, they can be found anywhere in the country. Gulls have become used to humans and many are now dependent on us. They can be found in almost any parking lot where there is a fast food restaurant (gulls really should watch their cholesterol more closely) and can always be found at dumps. They don’t all need to be close to an ocean, just water. Gulls can be found at almost any lake across the country, even in the mid-west. The Franklin’s Gull, as an example, is rarely seen on a coast at all.
The most common gull here is the Laughing Gull. Anyone who has heard them knows that is a very good name for them. (The fact that they are found in parking lots proves my theory that they are not only laughing at we middle aged men in bathing suits on beaches). They are the gulls with the black heads from spring to fall. While most live relatively close to a salt water shore, some spend their whole lives inland, despite their proximity to a beach. That is the case with some of the parking lot birds you see. They often roost on top of large commercial buildings. Some even roost near the shoreline but then fly inland every day where it is easy to find dumpsters and food, like in parking lots.
Here is the promised mad knowledge. There are 26 different species of gull in North America. Do you want me to list them? I didn’t think so. The name seagull is used as a generic term for all gulls since large numbers are seen at the oceans. But since gulls are so adaptable, the name is not accurate. There is actually no gull with the name Seagull.
Despite this fact, Seagull is the state bird in Utah. Way back in the mid 1800s, the crops in Utah were being decimated by insects and the people thought all was lost. Then a huge flock of “seagulls” came in and ate all the insects, saving the day. So they appropriately honored the bird. Good reason, but still a nickname. (Here’s some irony for you: The gulls that saved them were actually California Gulls!)